Language Policy

  • Harding High School’s Language Policy

    Created by Erik Brandt, DPC, and Shandyn Benson, MYPC


    Harding High School’s Mission


    We, the community of Harding Senior High School, are committed to developing and challenging our students by: 

    • preparing each individual for life,
    • creating active, inquiring, compassionate and knowledgeable life-long learners,
    • shaping a better and more peaceful world through a sense of international-mindedness,
    • welcoming and respecting all cultures, beliefs, opinions and differences, and
    • fostering personal growth, self-respect and a positive school climate.

    Harding is a world-class comprehensive International Baccalaureate school where we value earning a diploma and guiding students toward a post-secondary pathway. Whether it is academics or work, Harding prides itself on preparing students for their futures.

    Language Policy


    Since language is the foundation for all learning, all teachers at Harding High are language teachers.  


    Language learning refers not only to the acquisition of a second or third language, but an understanding of another culture.  We believe that the study of languages allows people to gain understanding of and respect for other cultures.  A teacher’s role in the classroom is not only to facilitate growth and proficiency in another language, but to open students’ minds to the interconnectedness of other cultures.  


    We believe in the importance of and respecting students’ mother tongues as much as we are able.  Confidence and competence in a student’s mother tongue enables a student to acquire a second language more readily.  Additionally, Harding’s students represent a tapestry of cultures and we are proud of this and want our students to be proud of who they are, where they came from and the diversity that surrounds them.


    In recent years, at least 40% of Harding students have been identified as “Limited English Proficiency.” Within our building we provide English learning supports—inside our English Language Learner (ELL) classes as well as our Reading, Writing and Math Support courses.  We have found that many ELL students have been able to take IB DP classes and be successful at them.  Over the last six years, our teaching staff has had training on scaffolding instructional practices so that all of our students can work in their Zones of Proximal Development.  

    Also, we have the supports in place for students who wish to pursue the bilingual diploma, or pursue two Studies in Language and Literature subjects.  In recent years we have had students study both English and Spanish, as well as English and Chinese.  We hope to have English and French soon.


    Language of Instruction


    Our school endeavors to accommodate students’ varying language ability levels, while acknowledging that in the United States, English is the language of power, commerce and general communication.  It is our hope that all students leave Harding competent in this nation’s dominant language—and, most importantly, literate in at least one additional language.  To that end, all Harding classes are conducted in English, our Language A.

    • That said, many of our French, Spanish, Japanese and Hmong language classes are taught in “immersion” environments, in which the teachers use very little English.


    Additional Language Study

    Students in grades 9 – 12 are expected to take at least 2 years of second language study.  All counselors and teachers encourage students to take 4 years—ideally of the same language.  Most American colleges desire their incoming students to have at least 4 years of study in a second language.


    Students may study a Language Acquisition course at Harding in the following languages:

    • French
    • Japanese
    • Spanish


    Harding also offers Hmong, Lakota/Dakota and Ojibwe, but none of these are approved as official IB DP Language B.  Students may apply to study them as a Language A course if they’d like.


    In all of these language courses, students learn to communicate in both oral and written forms.  They also work on mastering reading texts and perfecting language skills such as grammar.


    Students may study French, Japanese and Spanish as a SL, HL or ab initio subject.  To take HL Language B, a student must be able to join a 2nd or 3rd year language course in 9th grade.  SL is possible after four years of study.  Ab initio is possible after 2 years (French or Spanish) or 3 years (Japanese), and is reserved for IB Diploma Candidates, or other students at a teacher’s discretion.